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Nasal flu vaccine to be offered

December 23, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

For Washington County residents who were not among the thousands were got a dose of the flu vaccine, more is on the way.

The Washington County Health Department said Monday it has ordered 1,000 doses of the FluMist influenza vaccine and will begin immunizing residents again on Dec. 30.

The immunizations, to be performed at the health department's 1302 Pennsylvania Ave. location, will be administered to healthy residents between ages 5 and 49, the health department said in a prepared release.

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The vaccine, which is not injected like the version of the vaccine previously used by the health department, will be administered by appointment only, the release said. A donation of $30 will be accepted for each vaccination given to cover its cost, the release said.

Washington County Health Officer William Christoffel said the department ran out of its supply of influenza vaccine in early December after administering 6,000 shots.

"We went through every bit that we purchased," Christoffel said. "That's 800 more than the year before."

Christoffel said there are there are still many people expressing interest in being vaccinated this year, likely because of the national media attention on the strength of this year's flu and some deaths caused by it.

Christoffel said he has not experienced so many requests for flu vaccinations in his four years with the county health department.

"There is a great demand," Christoffel said. "We've had a lot of people call in for the vaccine."

He said the additional supplies are being made available to health departments in Washington County and elsewhere because the state purchased a large amount of the FluMist "way below market price."

Influenza is a highly infectious virus that leaves people ill for a few days with symptoms that include a sore throat, cough, chills and muscle aches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nationally, about 114,000 are hospitalized and 36,000 people die annually from flu complications. Most of those who die are elderly, the CDC says.

The CDC discourages people older than 50, women who are more than three months pregnant and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, heart and kidney disease, HIV infection and diabetes from getting the intranasal vaccine.

Appointments for doses of the FluMist vaccine can be made by calling health department the health department at 240-313-3492. More information on influenza is available at the CDC Web site at www.cdc.gov/nip

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